The biggest case of prejudice in the Theater may surprise you. Most would anticipate race or gender to take the stands, however the one under the spotlight is none other than…. Weight. The standard performer on stage does not exceed a magic number on the scale that is yet to be found in the definition. The anticipated expectations for physical appearance goes hand-in -hand with the resume of a performer. If an individual has taken dance for several years along with gymnastics, it is expected they will have a leaner composition. The division of Weight is typically among differing roles that do not have the same prerequisites.
It has been noted by directors when they have a role that is characterized for someone with a little more weight, they cannot rely on their roster of submissions. The lack of Actors or Actresses who meet the description cause them to hold open casting calls in search of the right candidates. This is not due to a level of interest. Talent comes in all sizes however it is greatly discouraged in the industry. Hollywood has the same stigma of imbalance causing heartbreak among hopefuls for several generations.
Why is Weight a Factor in Theaters
One of the main reasons you will hear of a talented yet heavier performer being placed underneath the list of call backs is their inability to fulfill the role. It is widely assumed both on and off the stage that carrying a few extra pounds or kilos will deter them from any or all physical activity. Unless the part is laden with technical or difficult components it is safe to say it is not the only reasoning involved. Unfortunately, these are not open discussions as a fear of lawsuits can ensue. It is reasonable to expect a candidate to appear similar to the character. This leads to the next rung on the ladder, the writers.
Suffice it to say, it would appear as if characters are written to reflect a physical ideal. It is not often, Hairspray excluded, that you find a call for a leading character who does not fit the social standard. Out of all of the diversity, controversy and equality lines drawn, this is the quietest. It is as if the line was drawn in the sand on a windy day. There are a handful of writers and Directors who are considering overweight Actors and Actresses for roles. The typecast is conforming slowly in the workplace, the Theater and the world around us.
In the meantime, the stage is known to be a safe place to be different and show your true colors like a peacock in Spring. Until the ideology completely transitions from stereotypes, it is best to stay confident. Continue to sharpen your skills and make submissions. Attend as many auditions as you can as this will put you in the view of the Directors and Writers. When the right role comes along, you will have left a positive impression and resume putting you up front and center for callbacks.